Human rights roundup: Cuts cuts cuts, international human rights and QCs on film

22 October 2010 by

For your weekend reading pleasure, some of this week’s human rights news, in bite-size form. The full list of our external links can be found on the right sidebar or here.

The Inevitable Racial Effect: Counter-Terror Stop and Search Powers – Human Rights in Ireland: Rachel Heron, a PHD candidate at Durham Law School, argues that stop and search power under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 has failed to yield significant results, except one: it has provided a further example of how racially neutral laws have a seemingly inevitable racial effect. Our most recent post on stop and search, which has been the subject of a decision of the European Court of Human Rights followed by a climb-down by the UK government, is here.

Case Law: Bernard Gray v UVW – privacy injunctions and anonymity – Henry Fox – Inforrm’s Blog: Mr Justice Tugendhat has returned to the subject of anonymity in privacy actions. These cases consistently test the interrelationship between Article 8 (right to privacy) and Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

British foreign policy: Is Britain willing to champion human rights? – The Economist: Bagehot, the Economist’s regular opinion writer on British issues, blogs on whether, in light of its first National Security Strategy, Britain is still capable or willing to take a strong line on international human rights. I wrote on the issue recently here.  Bagehot is doubtful: “I would predict Britain is about to do its championing of human rights behind closed doors, in civilised exchanges between ministers or diplomats. “Talking, not shouting”, as various smooth-tongued western envoys used to say in Beijing, when describing their approach on Chinese human rights.” See also my post asking Do foreign policy and human rights mix?

Cuts cuts cuts: Various pieces on the impact of George Osborne’s spending review, full details of which can be found hereSpending review: justice cuts – Halsbury’s Law Exchange. Stephen Hockman QC: “In the end the justice system, whose role in a democracy is to see that the law is applied justly and fairly, is one whose expense will ultimately depend on the legislators themselves. Only if Parliament acts to simplify law and procedure will it be possible to make real savings without attacking justice itself.” Also see  Justice budget will fall to £7bn in four years – The Law Gazette and Spending review 2010: Policing and criminal justice cut by 20% – guardian.co.uk. Our piece can be found here.

Video: Watch Nigel Pleming QC argue for parliamentary expenses four in the Supreme Court: When the Supreme Court opened for business just over a year ago, it was mandated by statute to make its proceedings “accessible” to the public. It has done so in various ways, including the indispensable press summaries of judgments on its website (see my article here) and school trips. One innovation which hasn’t really taken off is allowing video cameras into proceedings. This is a shame, as if broadcasters took a little time to edit footage, it would surely make interesting viewing. Or perhaps barristers aren’t as interesting as they thought they were. In any event, by clicking the link above you can see Nigel Pleming QC opening the case for the Parliamentary expense four, who are arguing that ancient rights of parliamentary privilege should protect them from being prosecuted for fiddling expenses – see our post on the Court of Appeal judgment for more background.

Bagehot: Lest ye be judged: Britain’s deep distrust of elected politicians is pushing the country’s judges into the political realm – The Economist: More Bagehot, this time on the growing public role of judges in the UK, post the Human Rights Act and repeated parliamentary sleaze scandals. It turns out that judges are amongst the last public figures that the public trusts: “The public’s yearning for judicial resolution of every crisis risks dragging judges close to the realm of politics. Lord Denning was right: someone must be trusted. If judges are not, who might take their place?“.  Joshua Rozenberg wrote about this recently too.

Control orders for terrorist suspects to stay, says counter-terrorism review – The Guardian: This is based on a leak, it would appear. The review will apparently recommend to keep that the controversial control order scheme, but the time police can hold suspects without charge should be cut to 14 days from 28. The courts have been very critical of the orders, although they have only affected around 50 people since they were introduced in 2005. See our most recent post on the issue.

And don’t forget our recent posts…

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